11.16 central-pld

The Indians (9-3) already have a victory this season against the team they are set to meet in the regional championship game.

That was, however, a long time ago.

"It doesn't really matter what we did in Week 2," Central senior offensive lineman Evan Dexter said. "They've improved. We've improved. They are probably going to show some stuff we haven't seen before. It's a whole new game. We've got to stay humble."

Madison Central picked up a 34-24 win over Paul Laurence Dunbar (7-5) on Aug. 27 in Lexington.

The rematch will determine which team moves on to the semifinals of the KHSAA Class 6A Playoffs to face either Ryle or Trinity (Louisville).

Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday in Richmond.

"Both teams have come a long way," Central coach Mike Holcomb said. "We have played them before, but it doesn't matter. This is for the region championship. You've got to line up and play."

The Indians know success against a team in the regular season doesn't mean the outcome will be the same in the playoffs.

Central fell to Bryan Station at home last month, then beat the Defenders, 41-18, a week ago in Lexington to claim the school's second district title in the past four years.

"They realize it's a whole new ballgame," Holcomb said. "We've just got to go out and compete. I've got a lot of faith in our kids."

The Indians have put together a pair of dominant performances in the postseason.

Central has out-scored its opponents 83-27 in the past two weeks, while out-gaining them 798-498 in total yards.

Quarterback Hagan Harrison had four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing) and Brady Hensley had three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) as Central jumped out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead over Station.

The Indians rushed for 300 yards -- which was 7.1 yards a carry.

"Our kids have just kept on doing the things we've asked them to do. They are working to get better," Holcomb said.

The Indians relied almost exclusively on the run game during the regular season, but have gotten solid production through the air during the postseason as well.

Jayden West had a TD catch in both games and Travis Grant also had a touchdown reception against Oldham County.

"Hagan is progressing. The receivers are getting better," Holcomb said. "(The passing game is) something we work on all the time. If its available, we will take some shots."

The Bulldogs have had a much more difficult path to the region championship game.

Dunbar slipped past Lafayette, 21-19, in the opening round and got a 41-34 win over Tates Creek last week in the district championship.

The Commodores had a 20-14 lead at halftime, but the Bulldogs fought back behind Kamarion Robinson, who had 188 yards rushing and four TDs. A late interception sealed the win for Dunbar.

Robinson has led the Bulldog offense all season.

The senior running back has 1,229 yards rushing with 18 touchdowns, along with 15 receptions for 135 yards and two scores. He had three TDs in the first meeting with Central this season.

The Bulldogs can move the ball through the air, too.

Quarterback Cole Colony has completed 107-of-209 pass attempts for 1,242 yards with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Seven Dunbar players have caught a TD pass this season.

"Offensively, they want to play fast and keep your defense off balance. They mix it up," Holcomb said.

The Indians trailed twice in the first half of the first meeting with Dunbar (6-0 and 12-7) before scoring 20-straight points.

The Bulldogs finished with 18 first downs -- 12 rushing -- and almost 300 yards of total offense.

"They run some funky stuff, but I think our defense will be ready for it," Central senior safety Jeffrey Kinley said. "We are going to come out hungry, like we have been."

Central has won four-straight against Dunbar.

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